STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Trump's impeachment lesson: Democrats are 'crooked'

President Donald Trump said the lesson he learned from his impeachment trial is that "Democrats are crooked" and "vicious."

Posted: Feb 13, 2020 3:30 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2020 3:30 AM

If some Republican senators emerged from President Donald Trump's impeachment acquittal optimistic he'd learned important lessons of presidential behavior, he was happy on Wednesday to offer a different takeaway.

"The Democrats are crooked," he said when questioned in the Oval Office about what he learned from the impeachment ordeal, which concluded one week ago. "They got a lot of crooked things going. That they're vicious. That they shouldn't have brought impeachment."

It was a conclusive answer to a question that seemed less and less of a question in the days since Trump's impeachment trial gaveled out with a "not guilty" verdict.

Since then, the President has waged a brazen tour of retribution toward officials he sees as enemies. He's cast aside conventions separating politics from the rule of law. And he's basking in the uncertainty of the Democratic race to replace him.

Even as some of his aides scramble to explain away his behavior as routine, Trump himself is taking no pains to disguise his intentions. After administration officials downplayed the decision to ease sentencing recommendations for onetime campaign associate Roger Stone as standard procedure, Trump made clear the intervention was more narrow.

"I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing," he said in the Oval Office as his Ecuadorian counterpart looked on. "They saw the horribleness of a nine year sentence for doing nothing."

Stone's crimes, in the eyes of the federal jury who convicted him of tampering with a witness and lying to Congress, were not nothing. But for Trump, the facts of the case seemed ancillary to the effect the episode had on Stone and his family.

"We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens," he said. "And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children. Nine years in jail -- it's a disgrace."

Trump declined to say whether he was considering a pardon for Stone -- "I don't want to say that yet"-- but the message was clear: the once-typical wall between White House political motives and Justice Department decision-making has fallen.

Trump himself has long erased the traditional line that's existed between a president's official duties and his political ones. Events billed as "official" engagements often turn to attacks of Democratic rivals. On Wednesday, a stack of red "Keep America Great" hats produced by Trump's campaign sat within arm's reach on a side table in the Oval Office.

But the longstanding practice of avoiding interference in politically charged Justice Department investigations had at least been applied in theory -- if not practice. Now, Trump is openly flaunting his willingness to intervene.

Earlier in the day, Trump congratulated Attorney General Bill Barr in a tweet for "taking charge" of the Stone case and railed against what he described as the "Mueller Scam."

And while Trump continued to insist on Wednesday that he hadn't spoken directly to Barr or other Justice Department officials about the situation, he has said he would have the "absolute right" to do it if he wanted.

It's not exactly what moderate Republican senators such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins pictured when they voted against convicting Trump on impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Their hope then was that Trump, stained by impeachment and chastened by accusations he misused his presidential authority, would operate in more traditional fashion going forward.

Instead, the opposite has seemed to occur. Trump has overseen the dismissal of two key witnesses from the impeachment trial, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU. He's itching to fire other officials he deems disloyal, and abruptly withdrew a Treasury Department nomination for Jessie Liu, the former US attorney who headed the office that oversaw Stone's prosecution.

And after the Justice Department disavowed the government's sentencing recommendations for Stone, all four federal prosecutors working on the case resigned.

"I don't like this chain of events," Collins said on Wednesday. "The President weighs in, all of a sudden, Justice comes back and says, 'Change the deal.' I think most people in America would look at that and say, 'Hmm, that just doesn't look right.' And I think they're right."

Murkowski, asked whether Trump had taken any lessons from the impeachment saga, said that "there haven't been any strong indicators this week that he has."

Trump paid little mind to those sentiments as he took questions, sometimes angrily, in the Oval Office on Wednesday, where he was ostensibly meeting with President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador. It's the first time in nearly 20 years a president of Ecuador has visited the White House.

As Moreno looked on from his wheelchair (he was wounded during a 1998 robbery attempt and has used a wheelchair since), Trump cast himself as the victim of politically motivated takedown attempts and seemed intent on finding retribution.

"Where is (James) Comey? What's happening to (Andrew) McCabe? What's happening to Lisa and Peter Strzok, what's happening with them? It was a whole setup," Trump said, listing off the now-familiar names he blames for the investigations that have plagued his presidency.

Asked if he was concerned that federal prosecutors were resigning or withdrawing from cases on his watch, Trump said: "I'm not concerned about anything. They ought to go back to school and learn."

He seemed more pleased with a question from an Ecuadorean reporter, who praised US economic growth before asking about signs of weakness in Latin American economies.

"I love that question," Trump said, "I wish we had people like that here."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 692029

Reported Deaths: 8118
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1420361857
Ramsey59138950
Dakota52802499
Anoka48675484
Washington31035311
Stearns25220241
St. Louis20709336
Scott19922146
Wright18796163
Olmsted16101111
Sherburne13732104
Carver1228652
Clay928595
Rice9218124
Blue Earth883747
Crow Wing7961102
Kandiyohi750289
Chisago725258
Otter Tail680795
Benton6577101
Mower570538
Winona561352
Goodhue557680
Douglas543684
Itasca527671
Beltrami521172
McLeod513464
Steele512821
Isanti497170
Morrison473363
Nobles453850
Becker445859
Polk439975
Freeborn434140
Lyon399854
Carlton395659
Nicollet384747
Pine379526
Mille Lacs360360
Brown354244
Cass350835
Le Sueur345930
Todd328434
Meeker311049
Waseca294725
Martin268733
Wabasha24734
Dodge24655
Hubbard238541
Roseau235924
Houston207416
Redwood204042
Renville202548
Fillmore200810
Pennington193622
Wadena189426
Faribault182825
Sibley178810
Cottonwood178524
Chippewa172739
Kanabec167029
Aitkin157338
Watonwan156711
Rock141819
Jackson135412
Pope13478
Yellow Medicine127020
Pipestone125526
Koochiching122319
Stevens121611
Swift118819
Murray116610
Marshall105818
Clearwater105418
Lake93021
Wilkin90314
Lac qui Parle87024
Mahnomen7069
Big Stone7014
Grant6958
Norman6739
Lincoln6624
Kittson53722
Unassigned50993
Red Lake4937
Traverse4325
Lake of the Woods4124
Cook2140

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 438547

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
Wright221741
Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
Mills188225
Iowa185927
Cherokee184740
Allamakee181152
Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
Grundy161335
Appanoose158149
Shelby156539
Emmet153241
Franklin152224
Humboldt151626
Union149937
Sac147922
Mitchell146143
Guthrie142132
Chickasaw141618
Palo Alto134527
Clarke130226
Montgomery127940
Keokuk121332
Monroe118733
Howard118422
Ida109838
Davis105025
Greene103012
Pocahontas102623
Monona99034
Lucas98523
Adair97734
Worth9558
Osceola84717
Decatur76710
Fremont76511
Van Buren75221
Taylor73412
Wayne66323
Ringgold63027
Audubon60114
Adams4254
Unassigned270
Rochester
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 72°
Mason City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 72°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 72°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 72°
Clouds and showers arrive on Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events